England lost to Iceland. Iceland! Brace yourself for the barrage of awful Brexit jokes.
The loss should be shocking. But, well, it’s England. The Three Lions won a World Cup with help from a non-goal by Geoff Hurst in 1966. They have been paying for it karmically, ever since. The only way this could have been more “England” is if it happened on penalties.
Here are the toughest tournament losses in English history. Iceland, amazingly, is not the worst.
1950 World Cup [Group Stage] The vaunted birthplace of football finally graces the great unwashed with its presence at an international tournament. England losses to a ragtag U.S. team that trained together once before the tournament and included a high school teacher, a hearse driver, and a mail carrier.
Euro 2016 [Round of 16] England earned and converted a penalty in the opening minutes. Perfect start. Then Iceland scored twice and held on for the 2-1 win. Yes, Iceland has fewer people than Birkenhead. Still, they are a solid team with professional soccer players. So, not as bad as 1950.
1986 World Cup [Quarterfinals] Maradona scores one of the greatest goals ever and the “hand of god” handball goal. England can only pull one back in the 81st minute.
Euro 2004 [Quarterfinals] England takes a 3rd-minute lead over hosts Portugal on a Michael Owen goal. They hold it for 80 minutes. They go behind in extra time, then pull it back to 2-2 for penalties. Beckham misses the first. England eventually goes down 6-5.
1998 World Cup [Round of 16] England takes an early 2-1 lead after 16 minutes from young, vibrant Michael Owen. They blow the lead before half-time. David Beckham gets sent off early in the second. After a 2-2 draw, Argentina wins 4-3 on penalties.
2006 World Cup [Quarterfinals] Star-laden England reach the quarterfinals. Wayne Rooney gets sent off in the second half. England still hang on for a 0-0 draw through 120 minutes. Portugal miss two penalties. England can only make one.
Euro 1996 [Semifinals] Everything is going right for England. They are tournament hosts. Alan Shearer is the top scorer. They beat a team on penalties, dispatching Spain in the quarterfinal. A 1-1 draw with Germany goes to penalties. The Germans convert all of their penalties. The English do not.
1990 World Cup [Semifinals] England are the team of destiny. They beat Belgium 1-0 in the 119th minute of extra-time. They beat Cameroon in the quarterfinals on an extra-time penalty. Gary Lineker scores the equalizer to equalize in the 80th minute. The Germans convert all of their penalties. The English do not.